Monday, July 17, 2017

Childhood Trauma: Name-Calling

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

Whoever uses this line of BS either spent their childhood free from psycho-emotional torment—in which case they have no room whatsoever to legitimately tell others that name-calling doesn’t hurt—or they’re trying to avoid their own inner rot of childhood by sugarcoating it—in which case they still don’t have any room whatsoever to legitimately tell others that name-calling doesn’t hurt.

A Little of My Own Experience

Let me tell you a little bit about my childhood through early adult years.

When I was young, I had no sense whatsoever that the critical, degrading words others spoke toward me were false. I believed every word was true and experienced intense emotional hurt in consequence. In every case I became angry, and in many of them, violent. Punching and kicking others was my go-to method of coping with the pain.

Many times, however, those who’d laid into me were stronger or faster and so violence was ineffective. (Yelling at someone that they’re a “penis” or a “butthole” had also happened, but, well, live your life under a shroud of worthlessness and despair and then try telling a “superior” enemy as much—it’s supremely unfulfilling.) I’d end up either chasing after my offender until exhausted and in tears and then stuff all the hurt inside—often while the offender would continue slandering me from a distance—or I would just stuff down my hurt immediately for fear’s sake.

Whatever the case, the inner hurt I’d experienced from words alone was inexplicably agonizing.

As the years passed on, the violence subsided. With the exception of my usage of useless verbal rebuttals, I’d come to feel too utterly worthless, despairing, and fear-ridden to do anything to help myself. Repression was automatic, and along with other traumas, I’d lost my ability to cry.

To make matters worse, in the instances where some authority figure got involved, their logic went something like this: He said [such-and-such] about John. He shouldn’t be doing that, but, man, John’s really got a problem going into a hot rage and wanting to beat the crap out of him.

More or less, this is the way it worked. Someone would attack me verbally, and I would react in a very physical way. And so, in a general way of putting it, due to the mentality that “names will never hurt me,” only “sticks and stones,” most if not all of the authoritative hellfire would rain down on me.

Hello, Trauma. Come on in… Oh, I see you’ve packed your bags for an extended stay… Oh, my… It’s winter time yet I don’t even need to turn on the heat—you bring so much with you…

It Must Not Hurt Because There’s No Visible Scarring

The hellfire would rain down primarily on me because people are generally only willing to acknowledge two things:
  1. What makes them feel good.
  2. What cannot be ignored.
Easy it is to let slide the behavior of the person who destroys with words. Where’s the damage? If you want me to believe you, you’re going to have to show me the injury. But people just don’t do the same with physical roughness. Which is to say, at least from my own experience, that people tend to get away far too easily with causing psycho-emotional trauma while the physical ones take the brunt of the blame and punishment.

If someone had said to me, “Blame the worthless failure, John, the loser who can’t do anything right,” even if such talk had put me in tears, it’s hit or miss as to whether or not authority (whoever that may have been) would have done much where the offender was concerned. But to me, on having my anger trigger pressed and taking a reactive swing, you can bet I’d be punished in some way. If tears arose, maybe I’d be told to stop crying because they’re just words.

Even more ironic is the experience of reacting violently only to be, say, “physically handled” for “physically handling” someone else. Fighting fire with fire, as they say; “teaching” non-violence through violence.

In Dire Need of Healing

Our culture carries some blind man’s myth whereby physical hurt needs to be punished, often with physical hurt, or “an eye for an eye,” while psycho-emotional hurt, well, it can’t be seen directly so it mustn’t be too big of an issue. I mean, yeah, to the average person inner turmoil can sometimes be seen clearly through tears, but as we know only babies, girls, and pussies cry…

Like all the other issues (and then some) I've been mentioning in this “Childhood Trauma” series, this stuff desperately needs to come to light for healing. For far too long we’ve been making up all sorts of stupid rationalizations—resultant of unaddressed fears and false beliefs—which serve only to sidestep trauma while simultaneously deepening it.

Folks, here’s something I’ve learned from a profoundly hellish and painful life experience:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, and names may traumatize me into self-destruction.

We need to stop looking only at the outward signs, of offender or victim, and focus much more directly on the issues driving the behaviors.

As for the offenders, yes, abusive behavior has to be somehow prevented in the interim to healing, but just that: prevented in the interim to healing. Just like when a man beats his wife or smokes 4 packs per day, healing can’t be done by talking about it, ignoring it, or slapping one for slapping another. Such are temporary measures at best, always ineffective, and usually stack trauma on top of trauma.

Putting an offender in a concrete block with bars on one wall (literally or metaphorically) is simply putting an offender in a concrete block with bars on one wall. There is no internal cleansing and healing involved—something which needs to be top priority.

We cannot continue fighting fire with fire. It doesn’t work. It’s never worked. Perhaps it only appears to work because people have thoroughly bought into ideas such as, “My way or the highway,” and, “If [this much] doesn’t work, then surely more will be better.” Plus, people are big fans of repressing all things uncomfortable and then blaming and attacking others who mirror those very things. There is thus no “win” to be found but a tragic loss of humanity.

What absolutely has to be faced is the psycho-emotional trauma. Meaning:

What is the internal hurt that is causing the offender to receive such a disgusting yet addictive surge of pleasure when inflicting physical/mental/emotional anguish on others? That drives them to repeatedly push others into such a horrid and broken sense of worthlessness, anger, and despair?

In regard to those being offended, they must be given a loving hand, a compassionate ear. They have trauma that must be resolved. I can tell you from my own personal experience that there may be no greater anguish than being psycho-emotionally rent only to have “authority” come along and say, “It’s not that big of a deal. Just ignore it. There’s nothing to cry about,” or to be punished while the offender is let off the hook because “they’re just words.”

What is the internal hurt being suffered by the one offended which makes him an open door to such torment? That causes him, when the offender says, “You’re a dumbass weakling,” to basically though unwittingly agree, “Yes, a dumbass weakling is what I am, and I hate myself because of it,” and then either try to prove it wrong by punching the offender in the face, or repressing the hurt and becoming utterly numb to the world—or both?

It Carries On

As all this is said, take note that these issues don’t magically fall away with age.

We may find ourselves as 30-, 50-, or 70-year-olds who don’t behave quite like we had in our earlier years. As offenders, we might not blatantly harass family members, friends, classmates, or co-workers as we’d once done, nor as the offended will we necessarily flip promptly into fits of rage.

But unless we’ve done the inner work, the programming very likely hasn’t changed one iota—we’ve just learned to “hide” it in order to be “good, happy adults”—and may well, if relevant situations should arise, resort to much more refined methods of expressing our discomforts.

And if we have kids, they’re going to learn it all. Guaranteed. If we feel worthless and helpless, they’re going to feel worthless and helpless. If we carry a superiority complex, so will they. And then they will go to school or work and play out the very same roles that we had when we were that age.

Until we decide that enough is enough. Until we decide to take responsibility for our inner struggles so that our kids never have to experience the same torment that we had to bear.


  1. Man, I was listening to this audiobook yesterday and cried all the way through it.
    There's NO WAY for someone who hasn't been abused as a child to ever understand. Impossible. Whenever someone innocently and ignorantly states that "Every mother loves her child", I just want to punch them in their innocent face. It feels as if they are denying the crimes perpetrated against us.

    In fact we do often have physical scars: our persistent health issues that aren't caused by genetics or lifestyle. If we were lucky not to have developed health issues in childhood, we're still at a greater risk of them later in life. According to research, childhood abuse changes us at the DNA level and makes us more at risk of various serious conditions, especially auto-immune diseases (attacking oneself? sounds familiar). I have a heart defect to remind me for the rest of my life of the constant adrenalin surges while living on the "minefield" and of being denied any love and acceptance by my so called "mother".

    I have also thought about the self-harming and self-sabotaging habits many of us have. One time I was digging in the Akashic Records trying to find the root cause of my own habit. Conclusion: my self-harm was the physical expression of trying to suppress my own power, because exercising our power is not something abusive parents will allow, and it will have dire consequences. So we find ways to suppress our power in order to avoid severe consequences. And the habits unfortunately persist long past the point when they are no longer needed.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I hear you loud and clear. My situation was similar but different. No less, the lasting physical scars of health woes and intense self-sabotage/-destruction...

      Thanks, too, for the audio link. I'll definitely have to give it a listen.


Comments are moderated.
1.) Be kind.
2.) Be constructive.
3.) Be coherent.
4.) No self-promotion. (Use "Comment as: Name/URL" to include your personal link.)